Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Baby's here! (Plaid!)

Our new grandson is here! He arrived on Monday, a week ahead of schedule. Well, really, babies have their own schedules, don't they? Mommy, Daddy and Baby A came home on Tuesday, and big brother E couldn't be more excited. (Although he did ask when A will start "doing stuff.") We're excited, too! We had a fun time waiting with E for A to be born and welcoming A home.

So now I can share A's quilt. 

When I was a kid, and other kids in church were passing time by daydreaming, counting ceiling tiles, or (my husband) imagining a ball ricocheting around the sanctuary, I was studying the plaid of the shirts or dresses in front of me. (Confession: I still do it. But only before the service starts or during the offertory. Well, maybe other times, too. And for the record, there were four plaid shirts near me the day I started writing this post.) The thing that was fascinating to me was how the main colors of the plaid changed when they crossed each other--transparency, I guess, but I didn't know that term when I was a kid. I have long wanted to try "making" plaid in a quilt. This was the time to do it. I found a few patterns online, but they weren't always true plaids (the colors weren't really mixed and I had trouble picturing how that would work), so I decided to draw my own pattern. 

First, I picked four colors from my Kona "chips." I know there are five here, but I was waffling at the time. Limelight (the top chip) won out for the yellow green. The nursery carpet is dark blue and the walls are a light yellow green. 

I used several internet sites to figure out what colors would result from mixing these. I'm sure there is a program that I don't have access to that would have done it easily. But nothing technological is ever easy for me. I took photos of my chips and tried to get hex codes for them and then used a color mixing program to figure out the mix. It was a lot of trial and error, but eventually, these are what I came up with:

You can see that I was still waffling here. Eventually, I looked at them in grayscale to make sure that the values of the secondary colors weren't darker than the colors I started with. I was really surprised at the secondary colors that turned up. That's what's so neat about plaid. Ultimately, I chose the lighter green on the left and lighter greenish/aqua on the top.

After I had some idea of colors, I colored a design possibility on graph paper.

Then I remembered that I could use my Quiltography app, which led to all sorts of possibilities. 


I eliminated the top two options, as I wanted something a little lighter, but I really wasn't sure which of the bottom two I liked better. However, I knew I wanted to place the blocks on-point. First I printed out the design, cut up the blocks and rearranged them. That was messy, though, and the little pieces kept falling off the tape I used to keep them on the paper. I knew there was an on-point option for layout on the program, but I thought that I could only do plain blocks between the patterned ones and in the setting triangles--until I accidentally clicked on a "plain" square and it filled in the pattern. Boom! I love learning how to do a new thing on that app, even if it is by accident. 

to this:
Much neater!

I ordered my fabric online to get all the colors I wanted. (The stores near me tend to carry just a basic collection of colors.) Because I wasn't sure which layout I was going to use, I ordered more of some colors than I would need. I also ordered two close shades of one color because I couldn't decide which to get. This is how stashes happen, right? To help me figure out which layout to use, I cut enough patches to start each one. I took lots of pictures and then consulted with my go-to advisers (husband and daughter).

We all agreed that we preferred the second one, but I had a problem with a couple of the fabrics. The grayish blue seemed a little too purple-gray and one of the yellowish green fabrics did not seem to have enough contrast with the other. A dig in my fabric bin uncovered a lighter yellow green that worked better, and was actually a better match to the nursery color. (I had forgotten I had it when I ordered the fabric). I went to a local fabric store hoping to find a grayish blue that would work better. I did find just the right color--but it was not a solid fabric; it was a Grunge print. Here's the thing, though: the back of the Grunge fabric was perfect (just a tiny bit brighter and bluer than my original pick), and the print did not show through from the front. So yes, my quilt is full of Grunge--but it's all on the inside. (Would you do that with a Grunge?? For a moment, I thought it would have been fun to use Grunge for the whole quilt. But that thought passed. Maybe on another one someday.)

Here's how things looked during construction. I made rows rather than blocks. That's a lotta chains, but it went fast.
Instead of making triangular shaped sections for the setting triangles, I used just enough patches on the outside edges to complete the sides. By sewing the rows together on the diagonal and then stay stitching the edge through the diagonal of each patch before basting the quilt, I avoided distortion. I waited to trim the quilt edge until after quilting. It worked really well, and I don't think I lost any points along the edges.
The little square at the top is the top left corner of the quilt. The right jagged diagonal is the top quilt edge, and the left diagonal is the left side of the quilt.
For the back, I had lots of extra fabric to use from the front. I had long admired the quilts I've seen that are sewn in strips and then cut with one section of the strips reversed, so that was my inspiration. I've seen these in various places, but the tutorial I saw was on Cluck, Cluck Sew, so that's the site I'll credit. I made one change. I had to include a block of Samson, the family dog. He also appears on A's big brother's quilt. (And, by the way, Baby A has passed the sniff test from Sam.) The pattern is a variation (longer snout) of a Dog Gone Cute block designed by Lorna of Sew Fresh Quilts.

I had only a vague vision for the quilting. I knew I wanted to make the lines part of the "plaid." But beyond that, I wasn't sure how it would work. I started by quilting in the ditch (sort of) along each seam. That proved a bit tricky, as I had alternated the directions of the seam allowances when I pressed them so they would nest. That meant that the ditch kind of moved back and forth from seam to seam. Because of that, my stitches show a bit more on some patches than others. I also used a white quilting thread--not sure that was wise on solid colors. Quilting in the ditch was boring!! Oh, my. But I carried on, thinking good thoughts of the baby to come. Perhaps, if I had known, I would have quilted a quarter inch away from seam lines. Who knows? After I completed the ditch quilting, I added two parallel lines down the middles of the rows with white squares. I thought I would add more lines in the blue patches later, but I stopped myself from getting carried away. The quilting seemed to be enough to add texture and softness. I used the guide that came with my walking foot for quilting. My lines are far from straight--I still tend to wobble the quilt a smidge when I stop to move my hands (or when I resist moving my hands when I should or try to move them while quilting!)--but I've accepted that in my quilting. Just the way it is.
After washing

After washing

After washing
Okay, some stats:

Pattern: Front: my own design, drawn on graph paper and with the Quiltography app. Back: Inspired by a tutorial for Strip and Flip quilt on Cluck, Cluck, Sew; Variation of Dog Gone Cute block by Lorna of Sew Fresh Quilts. Six sizes of patches: largest patch finishes at 3 1/2 inches square and smallest at 7/8 inches square. Quilt was laid out in diagonal rows rather than in blocks.
Fabrics: Kona Cotton in Snow, Prussian, Limelight, Jamaica, Celery, Malibu, Aloe, Laurel and Robin Egg. (For the record, colors considered and rejected were Cactus, Candy Green and Delft--I will have to make more quilts with them); Grunge by Basic Gray for Moda--it's one of the 30150 colors, possibly Delft or Heritage, but I'm uncertain.

Batting: Hobbs Premium Cotton 80/20 
Thread:  Superior Masterpiece in Granite for piecing; King Tut in Temple (white) for quilting and Treasure in Little Prince (variegated blue) for hand sewing the binding. 
Binding: Cut 2 1/2 inches wide and folded in half; 3/8 inch finished; hand stitched to back.
Size: approximately 57 1/4 inches square pieced; 56 1/4 inches quilted; 54 1/2 inches after machine washing/drying.  

Machines: Singer Featherweight for piecing; Singer 115 Treadle for walking foot quilting.  

A quilt's not done until it's signed and dated.

What did I learn while making this quilt?
1. However clumsy I am with computer programs, I figured out how to use them to mix colors to make plaid. A big challenge, that task took much longer than actually making the quilt, but it was fun!
2. When you mix two colors the results can be unexpected! And the colors you start with tend to play a very small role in the overall colors of the plaid. Also, it's okay to make adjustments in the colors when you're not sold on the mix you picked.
3. I now know how to use my very basic computer quilt design program to lay out quilts on-point. I love how I keep expanding what I can do with a 15-dollar investment.
4. It's okay to use the back side of a pretty fabric. I've done that before on a small scale. But it was really hard to hide that delicious Grunge-ness. I think I just might have to make a Grunge "plaid" quilt.
5. It is possible to put a quilt on-point without stretching the edges out too much. It just takes a little care. Keeping whole patches intact along the edges, stay-stitching them, and trimming them after quilting can work very well. 
6. Figuring out plaid is a bit complicated for me, but I think I might like to try again--maybe with a more complex, asymmetrical plaid.
7. I love having a new grandbaby to quilt for!!

After I finished the quilt, we took it for a little bike ride on my favorite trail in town.

People keep adding little decorations to this trail. These little ladybugs were near this bench.
 And this little garden showed up since we were last here. Butterfly garden, maybe?

Evenings are still warm, but there is a hint of fall in the plants and the earlier sunset. Light was fading. Time to go home.

So, of course, now that A is here, I had to also take a picture of him on his new quilt. Just his feet, though. He's kind of a private person. He wasn't real thrilled about being unwrapped from his cozy cocoon, so we just snapped a quick picture and swaddled him up again for more cuddles. 

I hope you've had some fun finishes lately (quilts, babies, or otherwise) and that you tried or learned something new for you. 

Okay, now to make some burp cloths and crib sheets.

(I'm not affiliated with any company, so when I mention products, services, or stores I'm just documenting what I used or liked.) 


Jan said...

Lucky baby - what a beautiful quilt! Congratulations and well done on figuring out how to get the colours to overlap so successfully. You've inspired me to try making one too.

Pam Dempsey said...

Love, love, love the plaid, colors, backside and doggie block!!! You should sell this pattern! So beautiful!!!!

Linda said...

Janine it is stunning! I love the colors, plaid, and the on point, as well as the reverse strip and dog on the back. I can't stop looking at it!
I had to laugh about your husband's imaginings during church. I was more disruptive. My friend Connie would say things to make me snicker - and everything was more funny when I was supposed to be quiet! Even when I tried to disguise giggling, my shoulders would shake and I would get a scolding from Mom as soon as we got in the car - lol!

Vicki in MN said...

Ooooh I love this quilt, I love plaid looks. But I just don't feel like I could do them right. You did it right;) And the back is just as cute as the front=double use right!

Bernie Kringel said...

I am at a loss for words here. Janine you have this gift for original design and use of color. Many many people strive for these sorts of things but you knock it out of the park each time. The transparency effect and the resulting plaid is spectacular. Really really amazing. I am in awe that you can get these ideas (from studying plaids in church no less!) and then implement them. It was satisfying read that figuring out the pattern took much more time then making the quilt - I am sure it must have. You are tenacious and work at it until each detail is perfect.
Love the backing and the doggie block - just like big brother's. Hard to believe Baby A is here as I clearly remember the excitement of waiting for his brother! Time flies. Thanks for sharing this - it is amazing.

Louise said...

Oh my goodness! You really outdid yourself, Janine! I love this plaid and your detailed process of how you got there. You really took a scientific approach to figure out how the colors all work together. And it's perfect! Great design, and your glamour shots are wonderful. Of course, the very best one has tiny feetsies on it :)

Mari said...

First, congratulations Grandma! Grandkids are the best, and two grandsons is awesome. Second, I thought this was a wholecloth quilt-- that you had gotten some plaid fabric and quilted it up. The fact that it's all pieced is amazing. Such a wonderful quilt for Baby A and a great accomplishment for you. It's really spectacular, and what a special gift for your new grandson. Congratulations on everything!

chrisknits said...

What a wonderful quilt! A cherished item for sure.

Preeti said...

Wow, I am completely blown away. I admire the process but even more the fact that you took the pains to explain every step to your readers. The resulting finish is fantastic. The choice of colors is so spot on. Anyone who thinks that creativity comes easily must read this blogpost to understand the process behind any creative project - so many trials and changes and do-overs are required to get to the final design. Love the little puppy on the back. What is life without whimsy, says Sheldon Cooper and I agree with him. Congratulations on your new bundle of sweetness and charms. Baby A is lucky and so are we to get a peek into your process.

Sandra Walker said...

I spent so much time on your post, all good time too,just saying. Back and forth from your graph paper sketch to the quiltography to the quilt back to the quiltography app (how did she do the blocks?) And seeing those little feet again on his quilt perfect ending! I too have had a long fascination with cloud! In fact I tried to do one in the design challenge with limited success. It is hard! To echo Bernie, you are a wizard with colour and you’ve nailed it on this beautiful quilt! I found myself nodding so much through the post even to the wobbles from NOT moving your hands when you should when quilting!!

Lynn said...

A beautiful quilt. An amazing process to see unfold, thanks so much for sharing it with us. Quite remarkable, but as you say, so worth it for a grandchild. Beautiful.

Love Of Quilts said...

Darling quit.

Kaja said...

Congratulations on your new grandson! I love a good plaid, so this quilt appeals to me a lot. I am also very impressed with your perseverance in working out how to make it!

Margo Yang said...

What an incredible quilt you made!! Look at all those small pieces!! It's beautiful both front and back. And thanks for mentioning about quiltography app. I have to check it out.

helenjean@midgetgemquilts said...

First congratulations on the new grandson, and a new grandson means an opportunity to make lots more quilts! I really love this quilt you made here. I love the one little dog block. Works so well, and the plaid is perfect. Like yourself, I used to look at the fabric of clothes during church. The plaids that were mismatched were particularly a focus. And the lady with the fox fur stole (it was a long time ago). She used to ask that i didn't touch it, but well, the beady eyes were staring at me!